The King's Passing
On the advice of his physician King Kalakaua traveled to the United States for a change of climate to recuperate his health. He died at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco on January 20, 1891. His remains were conveyed back to Hawai`i aboard the USS Charleston. As the ship rounded Diamond Head, the flags were seen lowered to half-mast, and it was then that the King's subjects realized Kalakaua was dead.
King Kalakaua was laid in state in the Throne Room of `Iolani Palace. Hawaiian subjects and foreign residents came from all parts of the Kingdom to pay their respects.
Kalakaua was succeeded by his sister, Lili`uokalani, who was proclaimed queen on January 29, 1891. Her experience as Princess Regent during King Kalakaua's nine month journey around the world in 1881 and visit to the United States in 1890 had prepared her for her new role as Queen of Hawai`i.
The Children's Ball
During the reign of Queen Lili‘uokalani, a very special event was held at ‘Iolani Palace on the evening of February 22, 1892. It was a fancy dress ball, but one just for children. Shortly before eight o’clock, carriages entered the Palace grounds conveying the Queen’s tiny guests and their mothers to the front entrance. After assembling in the Grand Hall, the children marched into the Throne Room two by two according to height. They presented themselves to the Queen with a low bow or curtsy. The children appeared in a variety of costumes, including Bo Peep, Lord Fauntleroy, Red Riding Hood, George Washington, a Bavarian peasant girl, a Japanese nobleman, and a butterfly.
Else Schaefer and Bessie Lawrence in the costumes worn to the fancy dress ball for children at ‘Iolani Palace.
After presentations were made, the children participated in such dances as the waltz, schottische, polka, minuet and Virginia reel. As one newspaper reported the following day: “Never surely have any Honolulu children passed prouder hours than those which were danced away in youthful ecstacy (sic)before Hawaii’s Queen last night.”
The Queen's Music
Queen Lili`uokalani was a talented musician and accomplished composer. She wrote approximately 165 songs, including Ke Aloha O Ka Haku -- The Queen's Prayer , which was written during her imprisonment. Her best known composition was the the immensely popular and lasting favorite Aloha `Oe .
The crest on the cover of this sheet music includes Lili`uokalani's motto, "Onipa`a," which means "steadfast." The original edition of this sheet music was published in San Francisco in 1890 or 1891.
After The Monarchy and the Palace Restoration
Queen Lili`uokalani. Painting by William Cogswell
Queen Lili`uokalani was determined to strengthen the political power of the Hawaiian monarchy and to limit suffrage to subjects of the kingdom.
Her attempt to promulgate a new constitution galvanized opposition forces into the Committee of Safety, which was composed of Hawai`i born citizens of American parents, naturalized citizens and foreign nationals. This group, with the support of the American Minister to Hawai`i, orchestrated the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and the establishment of a provisional government.
On January 17, 1893, Queen Lili`uokalani yielded her authority:
. . . Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest and impelled by said force yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the Constitutional Sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.
- Queen Lili`uokalani to Sanford B. Dole, Jan 17, 1893
In 1895, an abortive attempt by Hawaiian royalists to restore Queen Lili`uokalani to power resulted in the queen's arrest. She was forced to sign a document of abdication that relinquished all her future claims to the throne. Following this, she endured a humiliating public trial before a military tribunal in her former throne room.
Convicted of having knowledge of a royalist plot, Lili`uokalani was fined $5000 and sentenced to five years in prison at hard labor. The sentence was commuted to imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom of `Iolani Palace.
During her imprisonment, the queen was denied any visitors other than one lady in waiting. She began each day with her daily devotions followed by reading, quilting, crochet-work, or music composition.
After her release from `Iolani Palace, the Queen remained under house arrest for five months at her private home, Washington Place. For another eight months she was forbidden to leave O`ahu before all restrictions were lifted.
The Apology of The United States Government
In 1993, 100 years after the overthrow, President Clinton signed a Congressional resolution (Public Law 103-150 ) in which the United States government formally apologized to the Native Hawaiian people.
Recent Articles on Lili`uokalani & on the Overthrow
Honolulu Star-Bulletin:The Overthrow , for a closer look at the events leading up to the overthrow.
Honolulu Advertiser: "Monarchy to Annexation:
Queen Lili`uokalani" - from the "150 Years of Hawai'i's History" Sesquicentenial Edition.
Honolulu Star Bulletin article on The Queen's Quilt